Hello everyone, Paul R. Hewlett here. First I would like to thank Kathy at I am a Reader Not a Writer and Rhiannon at The Diary of a Book Worm for hosting the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop. Also a special thanks to Sher for helping out post surgery. Thanks also to all of you that reached out to me. I am feeling quite a bit better now. Sher also mentioned the release of my book Lionel’s Christmas Adventure this November. Thanks to the response for my blog tour! There are spots still available. If you have a blog or a website and would like a free publicity spot on the Rafflecopter for an Amazon gift card for a post during my blog tour in November and early December, please sign up here.
Now, on the review! The Houcus Pocus Hotel by author Michael Dahl is a middle grade chapter book. Charlie Hithcock is a small, skinny boy with an acute visual (or photographic) memory. One day he finds himself recruited by the roughest, toughest seventh grader at Blackstone Middle School, Tyler Yu. Charlie, and the entire school, believe that he is in for a beating when Tyler summons him to an after school meeting. Much to Charlie’s surprise, Ty wants him to help solve the mysteries of The Abracadabra Hotel (known to most as the Hocus Pocus Hotel), where Ty lives.
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The Abracadabra was built by the great magician of the same name. It certainly has its share of mysteries. Ghosts are wandering the halls, a magician vanishes into thin air, things are disappearing, and there are unseen voices in the hallway. Ty needs Charlie to help him figure things out. Can they solve these mysteries? Is there more going on than meets the eye? Join Charlie and Ty and help them solve the mysteries of this grand old hotel.
I really enjoyed this book. If you’ve followed me at all then you already know that I grew up on Encyclopedia Brown and the Three Investigators. The Hocus Pocus Hotel falls right in line with these classics. Mr. Dahl combines magic and good old fashion detective work to create a real gem. I think that boys might enjoy this book more than girls, but both will like reading it. The writing style and language is appropriate for middle grade and younger advanced readers (ages 8 and up).
I believe that some readers may have difficulty grasping a few of the magic tricks and events. To address this there are clever, informative illustrations to help. The illustrations, all in all, add greatly to the book. I did notice, however, that one character (Mr. Thursday) was said to have, “…rubbed his beard.” The illustration, on the other hand, showed a clean shaven Mr. Thursday. That is just my inquisitive eye, nothing that impacts the story.
What I liked most: The characters are great. I really enjoyed the underlying theme of the whole school believing that Ty is going to give Charlie a beating. Some of the dialogue in that department was really funny. The plot is solid and the story is very entertaining. A few highlights, in my opinion, include Brack, the old elevator operator and the hotel’s restaurant, The Tophat.
What missed just a bit: I do wish that the author would have had a little more fun with The Tophat. I would have loved to have seen a magician’s themed restaurant, maybe with tables sawed in half, or without legs. I also noticed one line in the story where it was unclear whose point of view it was. I must add that these issues did not detract from the story in any way.
Overall: The Hocus Pocus Hotel is a hit! The packaging of the book is absolutely first class. Kids will love just flipping through it, with it’s fabulous cover and great illustrations. A strong story, fun characters, magic, and mystery all combine to create a wonderfully enjoyable middle grade book. I have a weak spot for uber-intelligent eggheads and Charlie Hitchcock fits the bill. Enjoy this book, whether your child reads it or you read it to them, just remember what Charlie says, “Don’t always trust what you can see.”
Disclosure: I received a free book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.